Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: April 2016

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review April 2016

About Beauty Heroes

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service. The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands.

Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product from a premier green beauty brand. They often also include a smaller bonus item from the featured brand as well (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn. Beauty Heroes features the best in luxe green beauty skincare, hair, and body care items; occasionally highlighting non-toxic cosmetic items as well.

Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. In addition, all Beauty Heroes members receive 15% off of any purchase from the Beauty Heroes online clean beauty shop. This month’s box is available for purchase through April 20th and while supplies last.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. This simply means that if you join Beauty Heroes through my links, I may receive a small compensation, which allows be to put more dollars back into the blog. All opinions are my own. To see my other Beauty Heroes unboxings and reviews, look here.

Beauty Heroes: April Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with a big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label. I was not the only one in the house drawn to the Beauty Heroes box. The kids were home for spring break when I did the unboxing. Asher popped into the room for a quick photobomb, and watched the unboxing from the wings.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 Asher photobomb

When I opened the box, I found pale silver tissue enveloping this month’s products as well as a sparkly turquoise Beauty Heroes mask. Beauty Heroes also sent a detailed enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted (more on that in a moment), as well a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products.

This month’s expert selection comes from the brand True Nature Botanicals. I had seen True Nature Botanicals and their products at A Night for Green Beauty last summer, and had tried their Lip Treatment in the past, but I still did not know much about the story behind the brand.

True Nature Botanicals was founded by Hillary Peterson, a thyroid cancer and melanoma survivor. Hillary was driven to create a line of skin, hair, and body care products that would be effective, use the highest quality ingredients, and completely avoid toxins. True Nature Botanicals uses independent clinical studies to assess the efficacy of many of their most popular products. With an eye on the purpose and power of high quality botanical ingredients, True Nature Botanicals spends upwards of five times more on their product ingredients than leading luxury skincare and perfume brands. As a cancer survivor with an intense respect for plants and their ability to nourish and support, I was excited to sample more products from this brand.

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes True Nature Botanicals Exfoliating Moisture Mask April 2016

The superhero item featured this month is a full size jar of the Pacific Exfoliating Moisture Mask (1.7 oz., value $90.00). I adore face masks so I was especially excited to see this selection. The Pacific Exfoliating Moisture Mask is all about brightening and hydrating the skin. The mask had a lightweight consistency and was almost gel-like on the skin. Meant to be applied as a thin layer and left on for a few minutes or more, this mask offers a quick way to give your skin a real pick-me-up. The formulation is packed with powerful natural ingredients and absolutely no fillers. It uses lactic acid to actively exfoliate and moisturize, as well as a host of natural butters and oils to bathe the skin in vitamins, nutrients, and hydration.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 True Nature Botanicals Exfoliating Moisture Mask Closeup

I’ve used the mask twice in the week since receiving the box and I love the results. It is an active mask; you can really feel the lactic acid working hard to exfoliate the skin. Individuals with sensitive skin may wish to do a small patch test before trying the mask, and may err on the side of caution by leaving the mask on for a shorter period of time. The mask can be used for just a few minutes or as long as fifteen minutes. I tried both longer and shorter durations and my skin was fine with either one. I really loved that the mask provides the option of a facial treatment that can be done even in just a few minutes when you are short on time, but in need of some skin pampering.

The mask itself has a pleasant fragrance. I found the sweet floral smell of the neroli oil to be the most pronounced scent. Of course, what I loved the very most about the mask was the way that my skin felt after its use. The mask left my skin feeling buttery soft and smelling faintly of orange blossoms. It was such a luxurious feeling and I had to stop myself from petting my face (which did not stop me from prompting my other family members to touch it to experience how soft it felt). In the true spirit of the Beauty Heroes pairing, this superhero product was made even better with the help of the sidekick product included this month.

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes April 2016 True Nature Botanicals exfoliating moisture mask & face oil

The sidekick item this month was a trial size bottle of the True Nature Botanicals Pacific Face Oil (size not listed, stated value $28.00). The face oil blends together an impressive list of natural ingredients from land and sea. It features familiar skincare botanicals such as argan, hemp, avocado and grapeseed oils, as well as more esoteric ingredients such as watermelon seed, kiwi seed, red pine needle, and passionfruit oils.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 True Nature Botanicals face oil review-closeup

The face oil is exceptionally lightweight and easily absorbed by the skin. My face just wanted to drink in this oil, especially following the use of the Exfoliating Moisture Mask. The oil has a gorgeous lightly floral scent that barely lingers on the skin. True Nature Botanicals’ clinical trial results have shown the face oil to be superior to Creme de La Mer across every aspect measured, from reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and pore size to increases in hydration, smoothness, and elasticity. I’m looking forward to seeing how the oil benefits my skin over time. In the meantime, I will appreciate the incredible scent and feel of the product, and how soft it leaves my skin.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 unboxing & reviewcloseup

April Beauty Heroes Box: Overall Impressions

I think that Beauty Heroes hit it out of the park once again this month. I absolutely adore both of the items that were included in this month’s box and know that I will use every drop of them. I continue to be impressed with Beauty Heroes’s ability to bring some of the absolute best luxury green beauty brands to their subscribers each month, and to deliver such incredible value.

This month’s box featuring two products from True Nature Botanicals had a total value of $118.00 for the $39.00 box price. That represents a savings of over 65% off of the product retail price. I continue to be thrilled by Beauty Heroes’s ability to deliver such high quality products at an absolutely amazing value. Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of Beauty Heroes, has an obvious talent for finding and collaborating with outstanding green beauty brands. As mentioned in the video, she is also an advisor to the Indie Beauty Expo, which is coming to both coasts in the months ahead. If you are a green beauty fan and you want to meet many of these amazing brands, you can learn more about the event here.

Once again, if you are interested in this month’s box it is still available for purchase through April 20th as long as supplies last. Subscription purchases made after April 20th will begin with the May box.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to Crunchy Parent and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel!

 

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Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Box March 2016 Unboxing & Review

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty March 2016 Unboxing & Review.

About Vegan Cuts Beauty Box

The Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is a monthly subscription service that sends 4-7 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Products are a mix of full and sample sizes. Items are paraben free and are often organic and natural.

Boxes cost $22.95 per month, which includes U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. To see unboxing from other months, look here.

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box: March Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing the March 2016 Vegan Cuts box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

Each month, Vegan Cuts includes an information card that provides photos, a brief description, and valuing information for all items in the box. The card also included the code MARCHBEAUTY for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more at Vegan Cuts Beauty Shop. I think that Vegan Cuts (and their sister subscription company Goddess Provisions) have some of the best looking information cards that I’ve seen.

Vegan Cuts Beauty March 2016 unboxing & review-Pacifica, Shea Radiance, October Fields

I had seen the Vegan Cuts monthly preview video for March and was very excited to receive the first item that I pulled from the box. I love the Pacifica brand. They have an eye on quality ingredients; work to benefit the environment, and their products are cruelty free and affordable. The full-size Tunisian Jasmine Lime Roll-On Perfume (.33 oz., $12.00) is a new fragrance recently released by Pacifica. The scent blends the floral notes of jasmine and orange blossoms with a hint of fresh citrus.

I love Pacifica’s roll-on perfumes for their ease of application and their exclusive reliance on natural and essential oils to fragrance the products. They are a great alternative to artificially-fragranced perfumes. I have them in several scents and use them individually or in layers to make “custom” blended creations.

Next up was a bottle of Black Soap Body Cleanser by Shea Radiance (59 ml, $5.00). I have used facial cleansing products based on African black soap, but this is the first black soap body wash product that I have received. I was expecting that the body wash might have some texture due to the plantain and cocoa potash and the oatmeal included, but it was a smooth softening gel. I was pleasantly surprised by the fresh, mildly minty fragrance of the body wash; scented with blend of grapefruit, lavender, and spearmint essential oils.

The body wash left my skin feeling soft and moisturized. I think that it will be excellent for use this summer, when my skin is craving moisture and I can use a cool minty pick-me-up. Although labeled as a body wash, the Shea Radiance site indicates that the product can be used on face and hair as well. Many of the reviews praise it especially as a face wash for combination skin.

The third item that I found tucked in the box was a scented, soy-wax, tea light candle from October Fields (value $1.00). I can always use tea light candles so I was happy to find this in the box.

Vegan Cuts Beauty March 2016 unboxing & review-Everclen, Erthlab Cosmetics, DermOrganic

I was intrigued by the box of Everclen Eye Cream that I spied next (.5 oz., $20.00). I was not familiar with this brand previously, but I liked that they formulate specifically for sensitive skin types. I have mentioned before that the skin around my eyes is especially sensitive relative to the rest of my skin, so an eye cream for sensitive skin seemed right up my alley. I appreciate that the ingredients list doesn’t include any artificial fragrance. I’ll need to take a closer look at all of the product ingredients to consider if it looks like a good fit for me and my uber-sensitive under-eye area.

The next item was another previewed item. The DermOrganic 8-Way Thermal Spray (2 oz., $10.00) is designed to protect hair from heat damage due to styling. The spray is also formulated to protect hair color from fading. The DermOrganic spray is gluten-free as well as being free of paragons, phthalates, sulfates, dyes, and artificial preservatives.

The final item in the box was a full size Vegan Eye Liner from Earthlab Cosmetics. This black mineral-based eyeliner uses jojoba and other natural oils and waxes as its base. Vegan Cuts had sent out an Earthlab Cosmetics vegan mascara in their January box. Clearly they are fans of this vegan, green beauty brand.

March Vegan Cuts Beauty Box: Overall Impressions

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Box March 2016 unboxing & review

I really liked this box by Vegan Cuts. I appreciate that they take time to curate a balanced box of vegan products. The March box had items for skin, hair, body, home, cosmetics, and a fragrance. I was happy to find some new brand and product discoveries. I know that many of them will really brighten my spring. Although it is still up to each consumer to review product ingredients to determine goodness-of-fit, the products in the box are greener than most conventional counterparts, and free of many nasties. As a reminder, if you’re in the market for a green vegan lifestyle subscription, Vegan Cuts’ sister company, Goddess Provisions offers a lifestyle box where all of the items are cruelty-free, vegan, and green/natural. I love that box too (see Goddess Provisions reviews here).

The overall value of this month’s box is The value of this month’s box is $68.00. I think that this is a fantastic value for the $22.95 box price. I also appreciate that the items were all full size or generous deluxe-sample sizes that will allow me to get a good sense of product performance over an extended period of time. I think that the Shea Radiance Black Soap Body Cleanser is my favorite new discovery in the box so far. Did you find a new favorite in this month’s Vegan Cuts? If you would like to see my reviews of past Vegan Cuts Beauty Boxes, look here.

If you are curious to learn about the April Vegan Cuts box, they have released a sneak-peek video that reveals two fantastic spoiler items.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter!

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Wintersowing Tutorial: Upcycle Trash to Make Garden Greenhouses & Start Seeds in Cold Weather

Photo credit: nociveglia via Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: nociveglia via Foter.com / CC BY

What is Wintersowing?

Wintersowing is a method for seed starting developed by Trudi Davidoff. I first heard of the wintersowing method several years ago on Garden Web. The idea is a simple one; creating mini greenhouses out of recyclable materials to use for seed starting outdoors during the cold winter and spring months. I thought that it was a brilliant method that was inexpensive, environmentally beneficial, flexible, and allowed me to keep dirt, bugs, grow lights, and whatnot out of my home.

I also love wintersowing with the kids. We can plant a little bit at a time over the course of the season, which keeps planting fun and manageable. We talk about the stages of growth as we check on the progress of our seeds. We also discuss different aspects of plants and their needs as we create our little growing spaces (e.g., we need holes to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide; the greenhouses hold in moisture and allow the sun to shine through, we open the lids in the warmer weather so that we don’t overheat and cook our seedlings, etc.)

Why Use a Wintersowing Approach?

There are many reasons why I love wintersowing, but the basics breakdown to cost, convenience, and success.

Wintersowing is extremely economical. The containers used are generally free and readily available. Wintersowing eliminates the need for grow lights or any special equipment. A bag of potting soil is typically my only true expense. Some years I also purchase seeds, but not always (see seed discussion down below for many resources for free seeds).

I love the convenience of wintersowing. Because I am sowing seeds in the comfort of my home across a period of weeks or months, I can do a little at a time. I don’t feel overwhelmed by my garden or a need to start all of my seeds in the same small window of time 6-8 weeks before our final frost date. I also really like the low-maintainance of the method. Once I prepare a container for sowing, it just sits outside rain or shine, and there is no mess in my home. There is no need for upkeep until the seeds sprout, and from then on it is fairly minimal. It is important to make sure that sprouts don’t dry out, overheat, or “hit their heads” on the tops of the containers, but these needs can be managed with little trouble (see resources below for tips and guidance on wintersowing). Additionally, since the seeds come to life in the great outdoors, there is no need to coddle them through a hardening off period, they re ready to plant after the final frost date in your area.

The best part of wintersowing has to be the success of the method. Since wintersowing keeps seeds contained and protected, there is little seed loss due to weather conditions or animals, as there can be with direct sowing. Wintersowing also keeps temperature and moisture conditions controlled better than indoor setups in my experience. I find that I have incredibly high germination rates with wintersowing.

What Seeds Work for Wintersowing?

In my experience, just about any type of seed adapts well to wintersowing, with the exception of plants that are notoriously difficult to start from seed under any circumstance (rosemary comes to mind). Perennial plants are very well-suited to wintersowing, but I find annuals to work great as well. I have used wintersowing to grow a wide range of annual and perennial flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables with great success.

Basic Steps of Wintersowing

To wintersow, you will need your potting soil or preferred growing medium, seeds, and your containers. You will also need a knife or other object for poking holes in your containers, a marker to label your containers, and possibly some heavy-duty tape and rubber bands. I sometimes also purchase paper cups to use within some of my little greenhouses.

Wintersowing is generally done using plastic, food-grade containers that have not previously held any toxic or hazardous materials (I stick with old food containers that I would otherwise recycle). You want to look for containers that can hold at least a 2″-3” depth of soil with some head space for your plants. If the container itself is not clear or translucent plastic, you at least want the lid to be a clear plastic to allow the sun’s rays to shine in. Sometimes a lid can be adapted by cutting away a portion of the lid and replacing it with plastic wrap or similar as discussed in the video.

Wintersowing will shift how you look at your garbage and recyclables. Once you figure out your preferred types of containers, friends, neighbors, and others are often more than happy to route their garbage to you. Some of my favorite containers are quart size yogurt tubs, large plastic clamshells from bulk lettuces, and traditional seed starting trays coupled with single-serve yogurt cups and reused large plastic bags. Other people are milk jug enthusiasts,

The video will give you an idea of how to use and modify your containers to create your mini greenhouses.

Wintersowing Resources

Wintersowing is supported by an enthusiastic community. There are many great places to learn more about wintersowing, ask questions, and to see the setup and successes of other wintersowing gardeners. Some of my favorites:

Trudi Davidoff has her own website about Wintersowing. The site is currently under construction but still has some information and pictures.

Gardenweb’s Wintersowing Forum is a great place to post questions and reap the advice of winter sowers of all ranges of experience and from all across the country. It is also a treasure trove of pictures about wintersowing from seed starting to planting, and for the “after” shots of beautiful gardens built from wintersown plants.

The Wintersown Facebook Page is another useful public forum for discussing wintersowing and sharing progress photos. The page has over 9,000 members. The Facebook page is administrated in part by Trudi Davidoff as she continues to share her passion for the method that she developed.

But What about the Seeds?

Of course in order to wintersow, you will need seeds. One of the most exciting aspects of starting seeds on your own versus purchasing seedlings is the exponentially greater range of plant options available to you. I love thumbing through seed catalogs looking at the beautiful and exotic plant varieties. I gravitate toward unusual colors, shapes, and sizes that I would never see at a grocery store, and are a rare find even at the farmer’s market.

Whenever I purchase seeds, I prefer to support companies who are committed to biodiversity and who are against GMO seed. If this is important to you as well, I recommend purchasing from companies who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, indicating that they will “not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants.” A list of companies who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge can be found here.

I also prefer to grow heirloom and open pollinated plants to allow me to save my own seed over the years; giving me a large stash of seed to work from. See a video tutorial of how I save tomato seeds here. Saving seeds from other plants such as flowers, peppers, peas, and beans is even easier.

I also find that because wintersowing has such high germination rates for me, I waste less seed and can successfully grow older seed. As a result, seed packets go a very long way and I often have extra seed from my own seed saving efforts to share. Seed swaps are another growing trend. I have participated in seed swaps through online communities as well at through my local botanic garden. Seed swaps tend to occur in January or February to allow gardeners to start their seeds in time for spring planting. This list of seed swaps around the country can help you prepare for next year’s events. Local seed libraries are another resource for seeds. See a partial list by state here, or search online for seed libraries in your state to find options local to you.

Wintersowing Final Thoughts

I hope that you find the wintersowing method to be as exciting and useful as I have over the years. After trying and succeeding with this gardening method, I really can’t imagine starting my plants any other way. I’m curious to know if you’ve tried wintersowing before. Do you have any experiences to share? I’m happy to field questions in the comments too so feel free to ask. There’s still time to start seeds for this year’s garden.

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LaRitzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: March 2016

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy Vegan Beauty Subscription March 2016 Unboxing & Review 3-27-2016

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy Vegan Beauty Subscription March 2016 Unboxing & Review 3-27-2016

About LaRitzy Box

LaRitzy is a monthly beauty subscription service that sends 4-5 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Although not specifically marketed as a green beauty box, the brands that LaRitzy sends have tended to be non-toxic, natural brands.

Boxes cost $24.99 per month, for the standard LaRitzy box, as reviewed here. LaRitzy also offers a LaMini Box featuring 2-3 items at a price of $14.99/month. Both subscription offerings include U.S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. You can see my other LaRitzy reviews here.

LaRitzy Box: March Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing my March 2016 LaRitzy box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

Last month, LaRitzy has made a change to eco-friendly “e-cards” to describe the products in their monthly box. Subscribers spoke out saying that they really preferred tangible cards with the boxes. For March, LaRitzy has returned to including an information card in the box that provides a brief description and valuing information for each of the enclosed items.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy Vegan Beauty MArch 2016 review-Deco Miami 8-free polish & Lippygirl gloss

The initial glance inside the box gave a clear “spring” vibe. There were lots of bright colors, and I was excited to dig in. The first item that I grabbed was an adorable box of Deco Miami nail lacquer in the color “Feeling Fuego” (5 ml., $9.50). This coral cream color has spring written all over it. I have been extremely particular about the ingredients in nail lacquer ever since reading this 2002 report during my first pregnancy. In brief, the report linked the presence of phthalates in cosmetic products to damage to the male reproductive system of developing fetuses. It was my first major push towards awareness of the importance of green beauty not just for me, but for my future children. It was also the reason why I didn’t polish my nails for the next ten years.

Healthier cosmetics offerings have grown by leaps and bounds since 2002, and this Miami Deco polish is a testament to those changes. This polish is “8-free” meaning that the formulation avoids eight chemicals commonly found in conventional nail lacquer that are suspected or known to be less than healthy. Eight-free is the most “free” designation that I have seen for nail lacquer to-date. Of course, it is up to every individual to decide their comfort level with the ingredients in their products. If you are a nail polish-enthusiast however, this formulation looks like a great “greener” choice, and the packaging couldn’t be cuter.

Next up, I discovered a tube of lemon-yellow, organic lip gloss from Lippygirl. The brand and product are both new to me. I love discovering new green beauty brands through subscription boxes. The Extra Virgin Lip Gloss (14 g., $11.00) is a blend of organic oils and butters. It is very moisturizing and gives a nice shine to the lips without being sticky at all. The formulation also left my lips feeling super-soft. It is not easy to find an softening, moisturizing, non-sickly gloss that is also petroleum-free. This gloss hits the nail on the head, and is certified USDA organic to boot. The gloss has a light orange and coconut scent that made me think of summer sun and days at the beach. As with all LaRitzy Box products, the Lippygirl gloss is vegan and cruelty free.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy vegan beauty subscription review March 2016 Juice Beauty eye cream & Modern Minerals shadow

I am always looking for products that will help nourish the delicate skin around my eyes. LaRitzy included a full size Green Apple Nutrient Eye Cream by the popular green brand, Juice Beauty (.5 oz., $38.00). The product is aimed at brightening dark circles under the eyes as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I have found that the skin around my eyes is exceptionally sensitive and I have developed dry, scaly patches that have been slow to heal after using certain under-eye products in the past. I’m a bit concerned that the fruit acids from the apple juice-based product may be too active for the sensitive skin under my eyes. For those who have less sensitive skin and have used this product, I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy vegan beauty Modern Minerals smoky quartz shadow swatch

The last product in this month’s box was a lovely Smoky Quartz eyeshadow sphere by Modern Minerals (10g, $16.00). Modern Minerals has built upon the idea of using natural mineral pigments in cosmetics, infusing their mineral eye shadows with rose petals, honeysuckle, vitamin E extract, and coconut for natural hydration as well. The smoky quartz color blends gray with a hint of brown and lavender; finishing with a subtle shimmer. I personally use mineral shadows as eyeliner; applying with a bit of water and an eyeliner brush. I have loved using the smoky quartz color. It makes a great daytime liner, and I would use it as a shadow to amp up an evening smoky eye look. It is a good color for transitioning into spring, when those fall and winter dark shades can be given a bit of a lighter, brighter lift.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy March 2016 unboxing & review closeup

March LaRitzy Box: Overall Impressions

I liked this box more and more as I explored the products. The Lippygirl gloss was my favorite surprise find. At first glance another clear gloss didn’t seem all that special, but after using the product, I was really impressed with the ingredients and the performance. I loved the overall spring feel of the box. Each product brought a little brightness to the party; whether it was softening or brightening my skin for spring, or lightening my color palette for the warmer weather. The total value of this month’s box is $74.50. LaRitzy continues to deliver incredible value for their $24.99 box price. If you want to see how this box compares to prior months, you can find those reviews here.

I think that LaRitzy is a great option for individuals looking for vegan and cruelty free cosmetic and skincare options, who also have an eye on healthier, green beauty. All of the products in this month’s box were healthier alternatives to their conventional counterparts, without sacrificing performance. I am excited to see what LaRitzy has in store as the weather continues to heat up. I imagine that we will continue to see bright colors and products aimed at keeping our skin soft and moisturized as we peel off the layers of parkas and sweaters and emerge from the long winter months. What do you think about LaRitzy?

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter! Before you go anywhere though, remember to subscribe here at CrunchyParent.com.

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Goddess Provisions Spirit-Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review: March 2016

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016

About Goddess Provisions

Goddess Provisions is a subscription service, created by the owners of Vegan Cuts. Goddess Provisions is a monthly lifestyle box for women. They send products to nourish your inner goddess and grow your spiritual practice. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full size items, spanning across the categorizes of aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and more. All items are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Boxes cost $33 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. For my other Goddess Provisions unboxing and reviews, starting with their very first box, look here.

Goddess Provisions: March Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the March Goddess Provisions box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged, and everything was received intact. As always, I loved the bright and informative enclosure card. Goddess Provisions does an exceptional job of highlighting their featured brands and products, as well as weaving the theme into the box. This month’s theme was “Self Awakening” and focused on the crown chakra. Goddess Provisions included products to help awaken the goddess within each of us.

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions March 2016 unboxing review-house of good juju & nicobella organics

The box was jam packed with items to support this month’s theme. The first item that I snapped out of the box was a House Blessing/Cleansing Herb Kit http://www.houseofgoodjuju.com/shop/house-blessingcleansing-herb-kit from House of Good Juju (2 oz., $7.00). I found this tin of botanicals, resins, stones, and wood to be intriguing. At first I thought that perhaps it was to be burned like incense or smudging herbs. Looking more closely at the House of Good Juju description, the tin is to be used as part of a multi-step ritual to cleanse or bless a home or space. During the ritual, the contents of the skin are scattered and tossed around the space. This is a way of blessing a space that is new to me. It was an interesting discovery in the box.

I couldn’t help but grab the next item with excitement (as evidenced by my tearing it open before even remembering to take the photo of the complete box-oops!). The Nicobella Organics Omega Munch looked like a bag full of brownie chunks (2 oz., $5.95). In truth, the bag held delicious crunchy chunks of organic chocolate, walnuts, and flax seeds. The week that the Goddess Provisions box arrived, I had been logging a lot of hours at the hospital with an ill family member and the Omega Munch was the perfect snack to toss in my bag to have with me. It was rich, chocolaty, satisfying, and completely delicious. The Omega Munch is organic, gluten free, and as the name suggests, it is packed with Omega-3s.

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016 review chakra love, purple frog patches, your joyologist journal

The next item that I found in the box was a continuation of a new trend for Goddess Provisions. For the first several boxes, Goddess Provisions had included a small crystal in each box. These last two months, there seems to have been an evolution to incorporate crystals in the box in new ways. This month Goddess Provisions sent a beautiful necklace from Chakra Love.

Chakra Love necklace closeup

Chakra Love necklace closeup

I received a blue lapis stone necklace, representing the heart chakra (value $25.00). I could not find the exact necklace online, so it may have been exclusive to the box. Other necklaces from the Chakra Love line can be found here.

I loved the next discovery in the box, in large part because it was completely unlike anything that I have seen before. The Air Awakening air fresheners from Purple Frog Patches offer an easy alternative to chemicals (12 patches, $15.00). One of the founders of Purple Frog Patches was diagnosed with a rare cancer at age seventeen. The experience enhanced his appreciation for the role that environmental toxins play in our over health and well-being; motivating him to find an alternative to chemical air fresheners. As a rare cancer survivor myself, the desire to decrease the toxic burden on one’s body resonated strongly with me. I do not use any artificially fragranced air fresheners or candles in my home, yet I had never seen anything like the Purple Frog Patches before. These personal air fresheners come on a pad of 12 self-adhesive discs. To use, a circle is removed from the pad and bent to pop the aromatherapy capsule and release the essential oils into the air. The pads can then be stuck anywhere that needs some freshening. The Air Awakening patches blend peppermint and eucalyptus to give a bright, fresh scent to any area that needs a pick-me-up.

The final item in the box was a mini gratitude journal from Your Joyologist (value $10.00). The bright red color is a mood-boost on its own, but the “Gratitude is My Attitude” emblazoned on the front is a great reminder to reflect on life’s blessings. The lightweight journal is perfect for tucking into a pocket or purse. The simple, lined pages are ready for any thoughts that you my wish to explore or reflections that you want to hold onto.

Goddess Provisions: Overall Impression

Goddess Provisions March 2016 whole box

I am always excited to discover new products through subscription boxes, and this month’s Goddess Provisions box was packed with items that were new to me. The Nicobella Organics Omega Munch was undoubtedly the most delicious, but the house blessing kit and aromatherapy air freshening pads may be tied for the most novel products for March. The items in this month’s box have a total value of $62.95. I think that the value is great for the $33.00 purchase price. The curation stayed true to the self-awakening theme, with items to lift one’s spirit and environment.

What do you think of Goddess Provisions? Do you like the changes to the crystals in the box? If you want to get your hands on your very own Goddess Provisions box, sign up at Goddess Provisions. I’m also looking for some new boxes to review in the months ahead. If you have a request for a specific box or a type of box (e.g., kids, food, beauty) that you would like to see me review, please let me know.

As a reminder, there is still time to enter the Crunchy Parent MommyCon ticket giveaway. MommyCon is another great way to discover natural, crunchy products as well as to learn about natural parenting topics and to meet like-minded people.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes for other great crunchy-friendly subscription or gift ideas, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel!

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MommyCon 2016 Review & Ticket Giveaway

Crunchy Parent MommyCon Chicago 2016 vendor expo & SWAG review

Crunchy Parent MommyCon 2016 Chicago natural parenting conference review & ticket giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed MommyCon’s recent Chicago stop, focusing on the overall natural parenting conference experience and speakers. Today I wanted to spend some time highlighting the expo side of MommyCon, and reviewing MommyCon’s great gifts and giveaways.

I’m also excited to jump on the giveaway bandwagon myself. MommyCon has provided me with two free tickets to give away to the upcoming MommyCon event of the winner’s choice. You can enter to win at the end of the post. You can also knock $5.00 off of any MommyCon ticket price with the discount code CRUNCHY16.

MommyCon Vendors

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As much as MommyCon is appreciated as a natural parenting conference, I think that they are equally well known as an expo; bringing together great vendors whose products cater to natural families. Any time that you wanted to pry yourself away from the speakers, and all throughout the lunch hour, the exhibitor area was bustling with activity at all of the wonderful booths. For people who frequently only get to explore natural specialty products online, this was a great opportunity to see, touch, and interact with items, and to make purchases, often at promotional MommyCon discounted prices.

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Over 100 vendors were present at the show, selling baby carriers, cloth diapering supplies, teething jewelry, reusable menstrual products, natural personal care items, organic mattresses, hip advocacy and nursing wear, and more.

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In addition to vendors selling their products, there were also companies promoting their products through product samples, local service providers raising awareness about their businesses, and organizations spreading the word and rallying support for their causes.

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The vendor area also housed the Babywearing School stage toward the back, where babywearing topics were presented. Products were demonstrated to show different wrapping and wearing techniques to accommodate children of various ages.

Sprinkled throughout the vendor area were informational tables helping to educate conference attended about feeding techniques and cloth diapering.

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Cloth Diaper Resource Center

For anyone who has ever tried to figure out the difference between a fitted, AIO, pocket, or prefold, there were displays on-hand allowing parents to touch, see, and consider which products might work best for their families.

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More Cloth Diaper Resource Center

Consultants were also on-hand to help answer questions that parents might have about cloth diapering in general. I thought that these informational displays and consultation areas were great low-pressure ways to promote the use of more natural products and increase awareness.

My one regret was that I walked throughout the vendor area taking it all in without buying any products initially. I planned to wait to make my purchases at the end of the day because I didn’t want to have to carry them with me throughout the show (I was already lugging a bag, snacks, a reusable water bottle, note pad, etc.) My intention had been to take the 20 minutes in between the final big presentation of the day and the end-of-the-day product giveaway announcement to scoot back to the vendors and make my purchases. As I came to learn, that plan was flawed (more on that in a moment). As a result, although I saw many products that I would have loved to have brought home from the show, I ended up not buying anything. Fortunately, several of the vendors included special MommyCon promotion codes for savings off of online purchases in the show materials, so the chance for future orders remains. Still, had I known how the end of the day was going to shape up, I would have planned my purchasing differently.

MommyCon Giveaways & Gift Bag

If there is one thing that has earned MommyCon great word-of-mouth, it is their amazing gift bags and giveaways. Before going to the show, I learned that every attendee to the show would receive a jam-packed gift bag. In addition, MommyCon gives extra gift bags to attendees of their VIP events. All MommyCon attendees are also be entered in the end-of-the-show giveaway to receive any of a number of amazing prizes ranging from car seats and organic crib mattresses, to high chairs and baby carriers. MommyCon had also promoted some mysterious “scavenger hunt” prizes through their Facebook page with small items hidden throughout the MommyCon convention space that could be redeemed for prizes. In all, there is no doubt that MommyCon knows that people really love gifts and free goodies.

The MommyCon conference day ended with 25 minutes of giveaways, for which the winner was required to be present. What that looked like in actuality was every last man, woman, and child at the conference descending upon a central area to hear if their tag number might be called as a winner. As mentioned before, the prizes were fantastic and the giveaway was clearly a huge draw and an incentive for people to stay, learn, and shop the expo up until the very last moment. Unfortunately, this also meant that the room was filled to bursting with overtired babies and toddlers who had been troopers through almost 8 hours of the conference already, and the noise level began to climb with restless, crabby children. It also meant that as everyone filtered into the room, many gathered toward the back near the doors, making exiting and entering the room a bit of an adventure.

MommyCon Chicago 2016 giveaway crowd

The MommyCon crowd awaits the giveaways. Photo Credit: Katie Hovland www.katiehovland.com

I had been seated near the front of the room during Jade Beall’s presentation that ended 20 minutes before the giveaway was scheduled to begin. As mentioned, I had intended to scoot back to the vendor room to make my purchases in those 20 minutes and return for the giveaway, but as I saw the traffic situation in the room shaping up into a major bottleneck by the doors, I gave up that idea, and stayed put in my chair.

The giveaway dragged on a bit, not helped by the restless crowd. I am sure however that the many winners were completely delighted by the items that they received, and found them well worth the wait. Once the last product had been handed out, all of the attendees poured out of the room and headed toward the elevators and parking garage. Despite the large numbers of people, I was surprised by how smoothly the transition went. It wasn’t long before I was back in my car, and ready to make the drive back home.

The gift bag that I received was for members of the Media Team, since I was attending MommyCon as part of their Blogger Collective. I’m not sure how the Media Bag differed from any of the other gift bags, but since it was in a different area than the general gift bags, I can only assume that it is unique in some way, so I wanted to provide that caveat.

I have to be honest and say that I was rather impressed when I went to pick up my gift bag and was handed a giant reusable MommyCon tote filled with goodies plus an adjunct item. I have attended many conferences and expos in my day and never have I received anything like this. I was eager to get back home and look through all of the goods.

MommyCon Media gift bag

MommyCon Media gift bag

The bag contained loads of informational and promotional materials from vendors and sponsors of the event, many of whom had included special codes for MommyCon exclusive discounts off of orders. The bag also held many great products from vendors at the conference.

If I was a mother of very young children, I would have been especially thrilled by all of the useful items, which ranged from disposable breast pads and glow-in-the-dark sippy cups to a cloth diaper wet bag and a breastmilk pumping and feeding system. As a parent of children who are past their infant, toddler, and preschool years, only a fraction of the items included were relevant for our family at our current stage of life. I felt a little guilty for being the recipient of such lovely items that we have no use for. I am sure that I will have no trouble finding a friend who will enjoy the items, but nevertheless I wish that more of the products were useful for families with children beyond the nursing, diaper, and bib stage.

The theme for MommyCon 2016 is “Growing Together” and I know that a lot of emphasis has been placed on including topics relevant to older children, families, and to parents themselves. I loved this step forward to embrace more of the natural parenting community, but the gift bag didn’t seem to hold true to this idea as well as the conference and expo on the whole. I would have been thrilled to find a reusable menstrual product, advocacy wear, un-paper household product, or other items that would have helped the overall balance of the bag to better reflect this year’s theme. I am nevertheless still blown away by the general awesomeness of the gift bag and will savor the yummy foods, household, and personal care items that were included in the bag.

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Evenflo scavenger hunt prize

In addition, my eagle eyes were fortunate to find one of the “scavenger hunt” items hidden in the conference area by Evenflo. As a prize for my good fortune, I received a cute Evenflo coffee mug and a $10 Starbucks gift card, which by far was Rich’s favorite thing that I brought home.

Final Thoughts about MommyCon Chicago

I was a bit dubious about attending MommyCon as a mom of children in elementary and middle school. I wasn’t sure if there would be much for me to learn after parenting from a natural/attachment parenting perspective for over thirteen years; and with the birthing, nursing, diapering, and babywearing years behind me. I was encouraged by the “Growing Together” theme, and figured that even if I didn’t find the topics to be directly relevant to my family, the conference would still be a great chance to meet other like-minded parents in the area.

I was really pleased to find the conference experience to be completely satisfying and enriching. There was not a moment of my time that I did not feel was being spent productively; learning or discovering something new that was relevant to me and to my family. I came away from the day feeling more empowered and prepared to take on approaching milestones for my children at their current ages, and for enhancing my relationship with my husband at this point in our marriage. I reflected on myself as a woman beyond my role as either wife or mother, which I know is far too easy to loose touch with, especially when one is oriented toward a very hands-on approach to parenting.

Overall, I was very impressed with the extent to which MommyCon attempted to cater to the needs of parents and children attending the conference. From diapering, feeding, snuggling, napping, playing, and more MommyCon had given thought to what their guests would need to comfortably enjoy the day. This alone is such a juxtaposition to so many conferences and expos, where children and their needs must be “managed” by parents so that adults can attend, rather than woven into the fabric of the event as it was at MommyCon.

For any parent of young children navigating the waters of natural, gentle, crunchy, or attachment parenting, I would assert that MommyCon is a safe place to find your tribe; to learn, to discover, and to grow. For experienced crunchy parents of older children like myself, I am pleased to report that I found MommyCon to move the conversation of natural parenting forward into later phases of parenting as well. In addition, MommyCon shed light on the too-often neglected topic of parents themselves, and their needs as individuals and partners. I am already looking forward to MommyCon returning to Chicago next year.

MommyCon Ticket Giveaway

If you are still waiting for MommyCon 2016 to arrive at a location near you, you’re in luck. In addition to offering the CRUNCHY16 code for $5 off tickets, I have two tickets to give away to one of the upcoming MommyCon 2016 events*. I will select one winner who will receive 2 free ticket to the 2016 MommyCon event of their choice*, or two passes for a 1-day attendance to MommyCon’s Milk or Wear conferences.

Fine Print: The winner is responsible for any transportation or accommodations as needed. Contest will remain open through Tuesday March 29, 11:59 PM Central time. Winner will be notified by me within 24 hours via email, so please enter with an email address that you check regularly. If I do not hear back from the winner with their city of choice within 72 hours of being contacted, prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected. Crunchy Parent will make every effort to arrange and support prize distribution, however ticket giveaway and distribution are ultimately the responsibility of MommyCon. Good luck!

*The April 2nd Seattle Conference is not eligible as a prize option due to the timing parameters of the giveaway.

Win 2 tickets to MommyCon! (Please click the link to enter)

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MommyCon Chicago 2016 Review

mommycon chicago 2016

It’s such a great experience when you find yourself among like-minded people, discussing topics from a shared perspective. It was a big moment for me in my earlier parenting years when I attended the La Leche League 50th anniversary conference, and for the first time found myself surrounded on a large scale by experts, vendors, and parents who shared and supported many of my parenting values.

I was so excited to attend the MommyCon Conference in Chicago earlier this month to see if I could capture some of that same magic, and to consider if such events were still relevant to me as a parent of older children. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

MommyCon gives a lot of focus and attention to topics of interest to parents of young children, such as breastfeeding, babywearing, and cloth diapering. It was evident that they also emphasize issues pertaining to older children, in addition to the well-being of parents themselves.

Before I dig in to all of the nitty gritty, here is a breakdown of the MommyCon basics

MommyCon is a conference and expo aimed at “forward thinking parents with a natural flair.” The conferences are held on multiple dates throughout the year at different venues around the country. Tickets for upcoming MommyCon events can still be purchased, and the code CRUNCHY16 will knock $5.00 off of the ticket price. ***BONUS Spoiler*** Tomorrow I will be posting Part 2 of the MommyCon Review, which will include a giveaway for 2 free tickets to an upcoming MommyCon 2016 event of the winner’s choosing.

Chicago was the second stop of the 2016 schedule. Parents from near and far converged upon the convention center, many wearing their babies with them at the one-day event. Tremendous effort was put forth to make sure that babies and young children were comfortable throughout the day.

Caring for the Big and Little MommyCon Conference-Goers

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MommyCon had play areas set up in the back of many of the large lecture spaces so that children could remain entertained while the adults listened to speakers.

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There were also craft stations in the hallways for older children to flex their artistic muscles when they were in need of a creative outlet. New this year, MommyCon offered a drop-off care option at the Chicago location for children ages three and up, although this is not available at all of the conference locations this year.

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In addition to keeping children active, MommyCon catered to their other needs as well. The conference provided fully-stocked changing stations where babies could be diapered in complementary (healthier) sposies. Wipes were also provided free for all the mini conference attendees.

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Stonyfield sponsored an eating area where babies and children (and parents) could enjoy a snack of yogurt. MommyCon also had water stations in the hallways where reusable water bottles could be refilled, and where cups and cold water were available as needed.

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Mystery bags hanging out in the hallway

MommyCon provided snack bags on several tables in various hallways, free to anyone who had the munchies. These bags were not labeled in any way though and they went quickly, so you needed to be made aware of their presence and act fast if you wanted one.

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Revealed! Snacks for those in the know.

Nurslings could of course snack wherever and whenever they wanted. For those benefiting from a quieter, less stimulating environment, MommyCon had a “ladies & babies only” nursing lounge for some private snuggle time, as well as a Quiet Room for a good long nap.

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MommyCon Talks & Topics

MommyCon had packed the day’s schedule with presentations covering topics of interest to parents with children of all ages. They had four larger conference rooms in addition to three smaller, topic-specific rooms exclusively targeting sleeping, feeding, and woman-centered issues. At any given moment, conference attendees could select from among 3-6 different presentations on topics ranging from cloth diapering 101, breastfeeding for the working mom, infant massage, car seat safety, toddler wearing, picky eaters, body positive images, baby led weaning, and more. It was sometimes difficult to choose between subject areas, but I tended to stick with parent, older-child, and family-oriented discussions since they were most relevant to me.

Vagina Village at MommyCon 2016

Vagina Village draws a crowd

The talks held in the larger conference rooms had plenty of seating available, as well as the aforementioned child play areas in the back. New to 2016, MommyCon introduced “Vagina Village,” a smaller room hosting presentations specific to women, such as intimacy post-children, talking to young girls about their periods, and supporting care of mothers postpartum and beyond. Many of the talks here were standing room only as listeners sat on the floor and spilled out into the adjacent hallway. With such an enthusiastic response, I hope that MommyCon will give some of these topics more premium space at other venues, and in future years. It was clear to me that in addition to learning about their babies and children, MommyCon visitors really want to learn about mommy too.

As a parent of older children (ages almost six through thirteen,) a standout session was “The Period Talk Unraveled” by Meg Eldridge from generationMe. Meg gave parents thoughtful tools for helping their daughters feel comfortable, prepared, and knowledgeable enough about their periods to respond to their cycles from an empowered position; without fear or embarrassment. She encouraged ways to normalize and acknowledge this milestone, and to create a positive culture around this aspect of womanhood that is often complained and joked about in our society, rather than honored or respected. Meg spoke about the many reusable menstrual products available today.

Meg from GenerationMe MommyCon 2016

Meg of generationMe shows some of the reusable products in the exhibitor area. Photo Credit: Katie Hovland www.katiehovland.com

I was rather intrigued by “period panties” that have an absorbent panel to catch any leaks and avoid embarrassing middle school moments or unnecessary laundry challenges. During the Q&A session following Meg’s presentation, moms shared some of their experiences with reusable menstrual cups, and discussed how to talk to their young children about menstruation (since moms never seem to have a moment alone in the bathroom and the topic has a way of coming up). Meg also handed out a mommy-specific tip; informing us that the Soft Cup menstrual cup is even safe and tidy to wear during intercourse (who knew?).

In a session focused on natural products for the whole family, Jenny Duranski of Chicago’s Noktivo natural nail salon spoke about the lack of regulation in the United States with respect to the ingredients in personal care and beauty products. She encouraged parents in attendance to become more aware, and to make simple changes in the products that they use to help maintain safer healthier homes, and safer healthier families. She highlighted two of my favorite resources, the EWG Skin Deep Database and the Think Dirty app as starting points to become more conscious of what is in the products that we buy and put on our bodies.

As many of you know, I am rather passionate about making healthy choices that support wellness. I am likewise always in support of products that are effective, affordable, and allow people to feel nurtured and beautiful. I was delighted to see this topic presented at MommyCon, and I hope to see healthy home products and green beauty explored even more at future MommyCon events.

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I also very much enjoyed the presentation about positive body image by photographer Jade Beall of A Beautiful Body Project. Beall showed dozens of her powerful images, capturing women’s bodies as they really appear in all stages of their adult lives; from pregnancy, nursing, postpartum, and on through to grand-motherhood.

Beall focused on the liberating, educational, and cumulative effects of projecting real images out into our society, rather than accepting mainstream photoshopped “celebreality” pictures as truth. To highlight the assertion that honesty in images can change society’s views of beauty, Beall demonstrated that a Goggle image search for the term “beautiful body” is now peppered with Beall’s “true beauty” images amongst the scantily-clad photos of starlets and swimsuit models (warning: link contains nudity). This concrete example showed that grassroots efforts to promote realistic images of women and beauty, change the definition of beauty over time.

Stay Tuned….

Tomorrow I will continue my review of MommyCon’s Chicago stop, talking about the Vendor Expo, giveaways, and gift bag. I’ll also have a giveaway of my own to share; two free tickets to the MommyCon 2016 event of the winner’s choice (enter here).

If you don’t want to leave anything to chance, you can still get a $5.00 discount off of your ticket purchase for any remaining MommyCon 2016 dates with the code CRUNCHY16. If you are feeling lucky, be sure to check back tomorrow to enter the ticket giveaway. Subscribe to Crunchy Parent and you’ll even receive an email reminder when the giveaway opens so that you won’t forget.

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Green Beauty Review: Affordable Skincare Routine Featuring Blissoma, 100% Pure, Andalou Naturals, & The Wonder Seed

Crunchy Parent Green Beauty Review Affordable Skincare Routine Featuring Blissoma, 100% Pure, Andalou Naturals & The Wonder Seed

As I mentioned last week, new research out of University of California-Berkley has shown just how quickly a person’s chemical body burden can be decreased by swapping out conventional beauty and personal care products for greener, healthier choices. Specifically, researchers found that the detected levels of parabens, triclosan, and phthalates in the urine of a sample of teenage girls plummeted within three days of the girls switching to healthier personal care products. As a mother of two girls (and as a human who presumes that the the research findings likely generalize to other people beyond teenage girls,) these findings only serve to reinforce the importance of choosing healthy products to put on our bodies.

Although research supporting the importance of greener personal care and cosmetic items continues to mount, barriers remain when it comes to the average consumer accessing these products. It can be overwhelming to wade through the sea of “green” or “natural” products, some of which may be relying more on marketing hype and lax regulations than on truly beneficial and effective ingredients to sell products.

In addition, product cost can also deter consumers from viewing green products as accessible. The reality is that quality ingredients are often more expensive than fillers and synthetics. On the plus side, many green beauty brands spend relatively smaller amounts on marketing than their conventional counterparts, which can help to control costs.

I’ve talked before about my commitment to trying to break down barriers to living a greener, healthier, crunchier life. I think that if someone wants to make healthier lifestyle choices, cost should be removed as a barrier. Of course, no amount of money is well spent if the product purchased yields disappointing results. To that end, I want to continue my green beauty reviews today with a focus on an affordable, moderately-priced skincare routine.

Any of these products could be rotated into your regimen as your less green product gets used up, or if you are just looking for a new product to try. I am providing my own experience and opinions here, but I am not a dermatologist, herbalist, cosmetologist, etc. Please check out my video review of the products. Below the video you will find more details about ingredients, product pricing, where to buy, and more.

I’ve listed all of the product ingredients for your review. I have also indicated resources where you can purchase the products, sometimes for even less that the full retail price. Of course, everyone’s skin is different. I have tried to indicate the skin type(s) that each product was designed for. If it’s not a perfect match for you, there may be other similar products in the line better suited for your needs. You can also let me know in the comments what types of products you’d like to see reviewed and I’ll work on addressing them in future posts. If you have moderately priced skincare favorites, please mention those as well.

1. Fresh-Mild Rice Facial Cleanser by Blissoma (4 oz., $31.99) This soap-free cleanser is designed for all skin types. In addition to being 100% natural, the product is vegan and cruelty free.

The real magic in the formulation is due to its ingredients. Julie Longyear, the founder and formulator behind Blissoma, has background in chemistry and a passion for the power of plants to support wellness. A host of botanical infusions and oils combine in the Fresh formulation to gently cleanse, hydrate, balance, and detoxify the skin. Skin-soothing and healing herbs like marshmallow, chickweed, plantain, and chamomile lay the foundation for this nourishing product. Despite its bland appearance, the cleanser smells deliciously fresh and citrusy and leaves skin feeling soft.

See the complete list of ingredients below. I have not been able to find the Fresh cleanser for less than full retail price, but it can be ordered through Amazon with Free Prime shipping and is well worth the retail investment in my opinion.

Infusion of Althea officinalis* (marshmallow), Stellaria media* (chickweed), Plantago major* (plantain), Rosa damascena*, Arthemis nobilis* (chamomile), Glycerin*, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) Oil*, Oryza sativa* (brown rice), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Cocos nucifera (coconut) Oil*, Prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernal Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate, Salix alba* (willowbark) extract, Cannabis sativa (hemp) Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Gluconolactone, Echinacea purpurea Extract*, Populus tremuloides (aspen) bark extract, Essential Oils of Lavandula angustifolia, Litsea Cubeba, Cymbopogon martini (palmarosa), Canarium luzonicum (elemi), Boswellia carterii (frankincense), Vetiveria zizandoides (vetiver), Xanthan Gum, Rosemary Oleoresin Extract, Grain Alcohol*+
essential oils in this product contain: linalool**, geraniol**, limonene**, citral**
*from Certified Organic Agriculture
**natural components of essential oils

2. 100% Pure Jasmine Green Tea Tonique (4 oz., $29.00) After I cleanse my skin, I like to hydrate it with a toner or mist. The Jasmine Green Tea Tonique is intended for normal to dry skin types but is gentle enough for use on all types of skin. The product is 100% natural and vegan. Once again, these labels only give us part of a product’s story, for the full details we have to look at the ingredients. Soothing aloe vera juice and rose hydrosol (LINK) lead the way along with green tea extract and calendula hydrosol. Additional plant ingredients help to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, soften and rejuvenate skin. The addition of the wildly popular hyroluronic acid helps the skin retain moisture and appear smoother.

My bottle has a spritz applicator although the current packaging does not. As I mention in the video, the product can either be applied with a cotton pad or cotton ball, or be transferred into a spray bottle if that is your preferred application method.

As of this writing, Amazon is currently selling the product for $28.00 with free shipping. 100% Pure also periodically runs sales through their website which might help you to find the product at a discount. Sign up for email alerts from 100% Pure to be alerted to sales and promotions.

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Organic Aloe Juice)*, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Organic Rose Hydrosol)*, Extracts of Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Leaf*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula Hydrosol) Flower, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root, Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf, Centaurea Cyanus (Cornflower) Flower, Echinacea Purpurea (Echinacea), Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail), Hyssopus Officinalis (Hyssop) and Lonicera Caprifolium Flower and Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle), Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine Essential Oil), Hyaluronic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol**, Benzyl Benzoate**, Linalool**
Certified Organic ** Component of Natural Essential Oil

3. 1000 Roses Moroccan Beauty Oil by Andalou Naturals (1 oz., $19.95). I am a huge fan of adding oils to my skincare routine. They give a wonderful boost to my normal-to-dry skin. Individuals with combination-to-oily complexions often focus attention on trying to remove oil from the skin, but stripping the skin of oil can have the opposite effect. The skin’s sebaceous glands can respond by kicking into overdrive, producing even more oil.

Andalou Natural’s 1000 Roses Moroccan Beauty Oil is designed to be gentle enough for sensitive skin. The product is vegan and cruelty-free, in addition to being gluten free and non-GMO certified. As always, I add these certifications as information, but they alone are not guarantees of product quality. The ingredients are the best place to look for clues about product quality and efficacy.

The Moroccan Beauty Oil uses a base of gentle, neutral oils including sunflower oil and jojoba oil. In addition to having many benefits to the skin, these oils are relatively inexpensive, keeping the product cost down. The sunflower and jojoba oils are fortified with a host of other beneficial oils and botanicals including antioxidant-rich rosehip and cranberry oils, as well as pomegranate and argan to help regenerate and balance the skin.

The lightweight oil feels absolutely gorgeous on the skin, and the rich rose scent is lush and beautiful. I love everything about this oil from the packaging and ingredients to the results and the price. The complete ingredients are:

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba), Rosa Canina (Rosehip), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate), Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry), Camelina Sativa, Argania Spinsosa (Argan) and Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oils*, Fruit Stem Cells (Alpine Rose, Malus Domestsica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Soothing Complex: [Hyaluronic Acid, Magnolia Officinalis Bark, Phoenix Dactylifera (Date) Leaf Cell and Boswellia Serrata (Boswellin) Extracts], Sorbitol, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Aloe Barbadensis Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) and Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos)*^, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) and Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oils*, Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Oil

Non-GMO verified *Organic ^Fair Trade

You can purchase the product directly from Andalou Naturals. The $19.95 retail price is very affordable relative to many other skin oils. Of course, if you are looking to stretch your green beauty dollar (and who isn’t?), Amazon is selling the oil for $14.49 with free Prime shipping. Vitacost is currently selling the Moroccan Beauty oil for $15.96. Use this link for $10 off your first Vitacost purchase for more savings. The product is even less through Frontier Co-Op’s Wholesale program, although membership is required to purchase at Wholesale prices. For more about Frontier Co-Op, look here.

4. Hemp Facial Cream, English Daisy by The Wonder Seed (2.4 oz., $16.95). This product is also 100% vegan & cruelty free. The formulation is a reasonably lightweight emulsion of water, hemp and grape seed oils, and aloe vera, boosted by many additional botanicals. Hemp seed oil, which serves as the foundation for all of The Wonder Seed’s products, is very rich in essential fatty acids and can help to address various skin issues like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.

I like that the cream absorbs easily and has a gender-neutral scent, owed to the English daisy essential oil. I have encouraged Rich to use it after shaving. I have been using it on my neck and dellecotage in the evenings and anticipate that I will use it even more in the summer months when my skin benefits from a lighter moisturizer. I think that it is a great option for normal, combination, and oily skin types seeking an economical green option. The complete ingredients list can be seen below.

Purified Water (Aqua), Virgin Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Organic Aloe Vera, English Daisy Essential Oil, Organic Green Tea Extract, Glycerin (Vegetable), Behenic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Ginseng Extract, Mandarin White Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sorbitan Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Soybean Oil, Vegetable Glyceryl Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Chamomile Extract, Borage Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (Coconut Oil Based), Retinyl Palmitate (Natural Plant Based), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Hyaluronic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Geranium Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Dextrin, Stearyl Alcohol (Natural Plant Based), Lauric Oil Extract, Wolf Berry Extract, Soluble Natural Plant Collagen, Potassium Sorbate (Natural Plant Based), Nutmeg Oil Extract, Sea Salt

This cream seems to be a little-known product at this point. Amazon looked like the most readily-available and fast retail option at $16.95 with free prime shipping.

I love discovering new green beauty products that perform well. I think that the secret is not only avoiding harmful ingredients, but including powerful plant-based ingredients that provide benefits to the skin. As with conventional skin care products, price and performance varies. I hope that the above selections represent a price range that will be accessible to many seeking greener options and will provide a level of performance that is well worth every penny.

To see my other green beauty reviews, take a look here. To discover new products in future reviews, subscribe to Crunchy Parent and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel, and follow Crunchy Parent at your favorite social media outlet; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. If you have requests or suggestions for future green beauty reviews, please let me know.

All of these products were purchased by me and have been used by me over time with results that I have been pleased with. This post has not been sponsored by any of the brands featured, although it may contain affiliate links.

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Vitacost Haul Video: Gluten-Free food, supplements, natural home care & personal care items

*I purchased all of these items and receive no compensation from Vitacost for this post, although affiliate links may be included. What follows are my honest opinions*

If you read my post about Barganic Alerts you know that I am really passionate about making natural, green-living choices accessible to anyone who desires to make them. Throughout my evolution as a parent and as a person, one of my goals has been to seek out healthier foods, which for us includes prioritizing organic foods, avoiding GMOs, and respecting our gluten and dairy sensitivities. This can add a lot to our food cost bottom line, but it is well worth it to me; better health is priceless.

In addition to what we put in our bodies, I am also mindful of what we put into our home environment via cleaning and household products, and what we put on our bodies through cosmetic and personal care items. This week, research out of University of California-Berkeley demonstrated that by swapping out just a few personal care products for ones with safer ingredients, the chemical body burden of teen girls decreased significantly within a period of a few days. This powerful finding only serves to reinforce for me the importance of prioritizing healthy products for my family.

The desire to buy the best food, supplements, home, and personal care products that we can afford has moved me to research the resources available to us in our community and through the interwebs to stretch our dollars. There are a few online retailers that I have found who offer very competitive pricing on high-quality natural, organic, and food allergy-friendly food items. Vitacost is a retailer that I shop with often for supplements, personal and home care items, and nonperishable foods. Not only is the value very good, but they offer an extensive range of products that are not always available to me locally.

Recently I got an email from Vitacost promoting a 15% off any order of $100 or more. This was the motivation that I needed to place an order. I also went through ebates and earned an additional 4% off of my purchase. You can see the complete haul video above. A select few of the items that I ordered were excluded from the promotional offer, but I still found the Vitacost price to be better that what I could find elsewhere.

I encourage you to do your own research to see how pricing compares to what is available near you. To give a sense of the prices during this deal, I have provided a sample of my purchase prices below. The promotion is no longer active, but Vitacost frequently offers various deals. You can sign up for their emails to be alerted of sales.

Prices are before tax and do not reflect the additional rebate received through ebates. For ease of comparison, I have converted pricing for “bulk” items into price per ounce or per pound as appropriate.

Xlear Spry gum 600 count: $33.99
Herbatint Permanent Haircolour Gel: $6.79
Ancient Secrets Bath Salts-2 lbs.: $7.51
Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder-32 oz.: $6.54
Ener-G GF pretzels: $2.16/bag (8 oz.)
Kinnikinnick GF graham crackers $3.29/box (8 oz.)

So what do you think, are these prices a good value for your area? Do you have any healthy food and personal care resources to share?

If you are new to Vitacost, this link will save you $10 off of your first order.

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Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing and Review: March, 2016 featuring SkinOwl

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review March 2016

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service. The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn. Beginning with this month’s box, Beauty Heroes will be featuring the best in luxe green beauty cosmetic items in addition to their previous concentration on non-toxic skincare, hair, and body care items. This box is available for purchase through March 20th and while supplies last.

Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. In addition, all Beauty Heroes members receive 15% off of any purchase from the Beauty Heroes online clean beauty shop.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. This simply means that if you join Beauty Heroes through my links, I may receive a small compensation, which allows be to put more dollars back into the blog. All opinions are my own. To see my other Beauty Heroes unboxings and reviews, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

As always, I was thrilled to see the box with the big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label on my doorstep. I opened it to find an enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted, as well a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 Skin Owl Beauty Drops PM

Superhero Product:
This month’s expert selection comes from the brand SkinOwl. SkinOwl was a new brand discovery to me, and a reminder of one of the many reasons why I love receiving Beauty Heroes. I know that when introduced to a new brand through them, Beauty Heroes has already done all of the legwork to ensure that the brand and their products meet exceptionally high standards for using high quality, nourishing ingredients that will not be harmful to my body or my planet.

Beauty Heroes did a fantastic Q&A session with Annie Tevelin, the founder of SkinOwl. Annie began her career as a makeup artist. Frustrated by the lack of results achieved with conventional skincare products, Annie sought out help with her eczema and severe acne education and certification in Cosmetic Chemistry. Through this experience she gained appreciation for the importance of the ingredients in skincare products rather than the marketing spin. Annie appreciates simplicity in her formulations; highlighting one or two star ingredients with a supportive cast as needed. She appreciates a less is more philosophy what it comes to her products. In keeping with a respect for ingredients, SkinOwl is mindful to use only ethically and sustainably harvested ingredients; organic and cold pressed oils; and essential oils of the highest quality.

Having learned more about SkinOwl, I was excited to see the products that Beauty Heroes had selected for its subscribers this month.

This superhero product selection for March is a full-size glass bottle of SkinOwl’s Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM (2 oz., $85.00). The deliciously simple blend of boabab and mangosteen oils works to support skin health by healing free radical damage. The naturally anti-bacterial and anti-viral oils also soothe skin and reduce inflammation, working to improve blemished or chronically dry skin. The oil feels exceptionally lightweight on the skin and absorbed very quickly after use. I loved the lightly sweet, fruity scent of the oil and how soft it left my skin. I look forward to seeing how my skin responds to the oil over time and will report back with a more complete green beauty review of this gorgeous product. I must admit that the idea of “beauty sleep in a bottle” is a very appealing one to this mom of three who still sees sleep as a precious, and sometimes elusive, commodity.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 featuring SkinOwl Beauty Drops pm & Heroic Helichrysum Beauty Steam

Sidekick:
Beauty Heroes added another level of skin pampering to this month’s box by including a sample sized bottle of the SkinOwl Heroic Helichrysum Beauty Steam as a sidekick product (.6 oz., $14.40). I could not find the exact product on the SkinOwl site, but they do have this similar, Marigold Glow Beauty Steam in their shop. This absolutely beautiful blend of flower petals and herbs is designed to be added to boiling water and then used to gently steam the face. SkinOwl adds that after steaming, the warm tea can be applied to the face with a cloth, blanketing the skin in a nourishing compress of botanical benefits. Botanical steams and compresses have been emerging as a highly regarded, and nurturing skincare practice. I look forward to trying out this ritual. The sheer gorgeousness of the flower buds, petals, and herbs inspires appreciation for beauty and serenity.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 SkinOwl Heroic Helichrysum Beauty Steam close up

I could not find the Heroic Helichrysum ingredients listed anywhere, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it probably includes helichrysum, a flower believed to help heal wounds, even skin tone, and relieve inflammation (more on helichrysum here). I was also able to identify lavender buds and rose petals in the blend. I hesitate to guess at the other green leafy bits as many dried plants can look the same all chopped up, but I am confident given SkinOwl’s focus on ingredient efficacy that the blend will be a gift to my skin.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 unboxing & Review featuring SkinOwl

Final Thoughts:
This month’s box featuring SkinOwl products had a total value of $99.40. I continue to absolutely amazed by the value that Beauty Heroes provides each month for a $39.00 subscription. Once again, if you are interested in this month’s box it is still available for purchase through March 20th as long as supplies last. Subscription purchases made after March 20th will begin with the April box.

As I mention in the video, I am feeling a great deal of conflict about Beauty Heroes at the moment. They are without question one of my favorite subscription boxes of all time. I think that the work that they do to bring effective, safe, and conscious green beauty to their subscribers is outstanding. Moreover, I love that they educate their customers about ingredients to allow them to become more knowledgeable green beauty consumers. Lastly, the focus on luxury green beauty brands at an accessible price makes me truly feel pampered every month when I open the box, and every day when I use products that have made their way to my home through Beauty Heroes.

The conflict comes from my desire to introduce Crunchy Parent readers and viewers to a range of naturally-oriented subscription boxes across genres such as food, craft, children, green beauty, and more. Although I wish that I had the budget to add more boxes each month, I do not. I need to occasionally discontinue a subscription so that I can add something new. It’s breaking my heart a bit to think about a month without Beauty Heroes, but I think that a hiatus is probably in the near future so that I can focus the “bloggy subscription box budget” elsewhere for a bit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about SkinOwl and Beauty Heroes. Have you ever tried a beauty steam or facial compress before? If you have any tips please leave them in the comments.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter!

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